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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4


Sometimes the best gifts you can give are those from the heart. Remember, it’s not how much you spend that is the measure of your love. Gifts given from the heart are always appreciated more than those from the wallet. There are many clever, creative ways in which you can share your heart with family and friends this Christmas season.

Homemade for the Holidays

Do you need to cut down on Christmas spending? Are you searching for personalized presents for friends and family? Is your gift list full of people who are difficult to shop for? If you answered yes to any of the above questions then maybe it’s time you took matters into your own hands (literally). Make and give homemade gifts!

Handcrafted presents can be a wonderful alternative to store-bought items, at a fraction of the cost. Best of all, you will enjoy making them as doing so makes the holiday season more memorable and meaningful for you as well. Instead of driving all around town trying to find the perfect gift, kids and parents can be at home spending quality time together creating something special. Who knows, it might even start a family tradition!

If you are handy with cross-stitch, knitting or crochet, you already know how to make one-of-a-kind gifts. For the rest of us, here are some ideas: handmade ornaments; homemade bookmarks; a poem that you write and place in a frame; a copy of the family tree on parchment paper rolled up and tied with a ribbon; paint a picture or draw a loved one’s portrait; make a picture book for a child featuring his or her favorite things.

Need even more ideas? See for over 20 easy gift-making projects including stationery, candles, recipe mixes, chocolate and candy-coated spoons, plus links to hundreds of others.

Recycled Christmas

If you don’t have enough time or energy to make homemade presents for people but you are short on cash, consider giving used gifts, also known as “re-gifting.” After all, a gift or present is “anything given or bestowed; something offered to another gratuitously; something which is voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.” The dictionary definition does not say anything about a gift having to be brand new. Rather, gifts are what we give after careful thought and care, specifically chosen with someone in mind.

Giving used gifts is one way to give a thoughtful present without spending too much money. Buying used gifts is not only thrifty for you, it’s actually a better value for the recipient, because you can give them a higher quality item than you would ordinarily be able to afford. Older items generally last longer than the mass-produced stuff made in China anyway. In addition, you are not contributing to crass commercialism and you are helping the environment by keeping things out of the landfill. Besides, hunting for unique treasures in out-of-the-way places is more fun than shopping in a crowded mall.

How do you manage to give cheap gifts and not look bad for doing it? If this is the first time you are planning to give recycled gifts, let everyone know ahead of time that you will be purposely choosing nice, gently used gifts this year – and encourage them to do the same. If they are aware of what you are doing, they won’t be shocked when they open their package. After a while they will come to expect it and will probably look forward to the unusual surprises that you find for them.

When searching for used gifts, start by scavenging around your own home. Stop at garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, and flea markets. Visit Goodwill stores and other thrift shops. Check the Ebay online auction site and the classified section of your newspaper. You never know what you might find – designer clothes, leather purses, glassware, framed prints, antique dolls, vintage books, jewelry, collectibles and more. Here are just a few ideas: give a friend an item of yours that they have long admired; a used book that you read and enjoyed; an assortment of photos that you have of the person; a piece of jewelry, collectible, or heirloom that you would like to pass on to someone else in your family; an assortment of old coins and stamps for a beginning collector; fix and clean up an old toy and give it to a younger sibling.

The gift wrap can also be a unique but inexpensive element that adds to the charm of a used present. Save the colorful comic pages from the Sunday newspaper, paper that your children have scribbled and colored on, or plain brown paper bags to wrap presents in. Make your own gift tags that say “Save the Planet - Give Recycled Gifts” and include a recycling symbol on the tag. To read about one family’s recycled Christmas, go to

More Low-Cost Gift Ideas

  • Purchase a gift certificate from a local video rental store and put it in a basket with some candy and popcorn. Wrap it all up with plastic wrap and a nice bow. Makes a great gift for families or teens.

  • Shop the dollar stores for kitchen utensils, baby products, craft items, office supplies, tools, etc. You can put together a nice bag, box, or bucket of “theme” items geared to the interests of the recipient.

  • Get some cheap baskets at a yard sale, flea market, or thrift store and fill with fruits or other foods such as herbal teas, cookies, etc.

  • Fill a plastic crate with items like dishwashing liquid, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. that you get on sale with coupons. These are things that every household needs and will use over the year.

  • If there’s one thing you can offer your loved ones that they will surely appreciate and won’t cost you a dime, it’s the gift of time. Make up a coupon book of favors they can ask for, or gift certificates redeemable for various services.


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